I’ve been locked up for 23 years, and the first time I saw them was several years ago. It started with Hardy, a dude in his mid-70s, who carried flip-flops to and from the bathroom.
When inmates first get here, Intake issues them a pair of cheap “shower shoes,” as we call them. These are flimsy, rubber flip-flops with a v-strap over the foot.
The peculiar thing about Hardy’s bathroom flip-flops was they didn’t have the v-straps — he had pulled them out.
One day Hardy walked into the bathroom carrying his strapless flip-flops while I was “feeding the warden,” as we called it. He occupied the semi-stall next to mine after he vigorously disinfected it.
I saw an opportunity to get answers about his flip-flops.
“Do you use those flip-flops to protect your heinie when you go number two?” I asked.
He replied in the affirmative.
It wasn’t long before I noticed that other fellows had copied Hardy and were hauling their strapless ass slippers back and forth for appointments with number two. This had exploded into a fad for felons.
Fast-forward a few years: I’m in a new pod. Hardy is no longer here, but I noticed that almost every other dude who fancied himself a gangsta or bad ass was toting his very own pair of ass slippers. Sometimes, I approach a toilet and see a sheen of ass-slipper tracks, as if someone tried to outrun their excretion.
And not only do the guys wash their hands after unloading, they often lather their ass slippers with soap as well.
And it gets worse: the latest trend is to use fancy gel insole slippers. Much softer, they say.
No wonder hardly anybody in this state ever makes parole. We’re more preoccupied with booty hygiene.
But if one of us actually makes parole, you might some day recognize us. You might spy some chap approaching a public restroom with strapless flip-flops or gel insoles under one arm.
If you see that happen, you can rest assured that what you are witnessing is a truly rehabilitated ex-con who has learned one of the most important lessons of all in the slammer: Always protect your ass!
Disclaimer: The views in this article are those of the author. Prison Journalism Project has verified the writer’s identity and basic facts such as the names of institutions mentioned.